Appellate Court

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Appellate Court


in bourgeois countries a judicial organ for reexamining cases, the decisions and sentences of which have not yet been legally enforced. The appellate court repeats the examination of the evidence and has the right either to uphold the decision which has already been rendered or to declare a new decision in the case.

There usually exist several appellate courts, having territorial and exclusive jurisdiction. In France, for example, in each of the judicial circuits (of which there were 27 in 1970) there is an appellate court which consists of several sections; some of these examine appeals on criminal cases, others on civil cases. In accordance with the French ordinance of Dec. 22, 1958, “On the Organization of the Judicial System,” there are two categories of lower courts within the jurisdiction of each appellate court: tribunals of superior jurisdiction, created for every 100,000 inhabitants, and tribunals of inferior jurisdiction, which have replaced the earlier courts administered by justices of the peace. The tribunals of superior jurisdiction (of which there were 172 in 1970) operate with a collegium of judges, whereas the tribunals of inferior jurisdiction (455) hold sessions with only one judge. With respect to criminal cases, appellate courts review the decisions of courts of both categories, whereas in civil cases the appellate courts review only the decisions of the tribunals of superior jurisdiction—that is, in cases where the amount sued for exceeds a minimum level set by law.

In the USA, where the judicial system includes federal and state courts, there are federal appellate courts (11 in 1968) which examine appeals on sentences and decisions rendered by the district federal courts. Each state also has several appellate courts. Usually these are the so-called intermediate appellate courts, which in some states are called superior courts and in other states are known as circuit courts. These courts examine appeals on sentences and decisions rendered by courts of the first instance, which in their turn function as appellate courts for the lowest courts—courts run by justices of the peace, magistrate courts, police courts, and others.

Great Britain’s system of appellate courts is essentially different from the analogous systems of other bourgeois states. Until 1966 the British Supreme Court included an appellate court for civil cases and a high court of justice, within which, under the laws of separation passed in 1907, there was a court of criminal appeals for examining appeals on sentences arising out of jury trials. In accordance with the Criminal Appeal Act, promulgated on Aug. 9, 1966, the court of criminal appeals was abolished, and its functions were transferred to an appellate court, within which a section on criminal cases was formed. The highest judicial body in Great Britain is the House of Lords; it acts as the court of first instance in cases of crimes committed by British peers, as well as the appellate court in which a second appeal may be filed with the permission of the attorney general if he thinks that the decision rendered by the lower court touches upon important questions of law which are of legal interest to the public. The House of Lords may reverse a decision or quash a sentence on juridical grounds (that is, independently of the correctness of the establishment of the factual circumstances in the case), and it may send such a case back to a lower court for a new trial. In its form this second appeal in the British procedure is similar to the cassation appeal which exists in other bourgeois states.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.